PUB: New Provincialisms: Curating Art of the African Diaspora

New Provincialisms: Curating Art of the African Diaspora

La Fantasie Art Project (by caribbeanfreephoto via flickr)

New Provincialisms: Curating Art of the African Diaspora by Leon Wainwright is now available to read in full at the Black Atlantic Resource:

Over the past decade there have been various curatorial attempts to assemble and understand the art of the African diaspora and to offer a more global sense of the histories from which such works emerge. The diaspora concept once promised fresh possibilities for imagining community beyond the nation; however, its internationalist emphasis has given way to a provincializing attitude grounded in United States – centered experiences.

When art exhibitions are designed to mobilize the African diaspora and to reverse its traditional exclusion from art history and public memory, it is less clear whether such designs also prove capable of reversing the direction of this new provincialism. And yet, while the otherwise international relevance of the diaspora analytic has become susceptible to political and social priorities with a locus in the United States, much can be gained from interrogating the ways in which this locus generates new “margins” and “centers” in the world of art and blackness.

To view the full article at the Black Atlantic Resource now click here.

[First published in Radical History Review, Issue 103 (Winter 2009) pp. 203-213:]



Aubrey Williams: Atlantic Fire by Leon Wainwright is now available to read in full at the Black Atlantic Resource:

The paintings of Aubrey Williams are islands of fire that have scorched their way across a range of different stories of art. One story is about the evolution of British painting in the twentieth century. Another is a story about the way in which Caribbean people have struggled and pressed for their freedom and sparked with modern creativity. Yet another story has passages on Britain and Guyana, Jamaica, South America, and the United States, pulling in all those settings around the Atlantic where Aubrey Williams lived and worked, and where he exhibited his art. It is a story about how Williams had an ability to be in several places at once in the history of art. Williams’ legacy is framed within a brilliant composite of narratives; and there his art works have remained, smouldering continually, their heat slowly building. His life story and his art cannot be located in a simple geography, either physical or cultural. Williams painted with fire, and the path that he cut is a hard one to follow…

To view the full article at the Black Atlantic Resource now click here

To view Aubrey Williams’ artist page at the October Gallery, with images exhibited at the Atlantic Fire exhibition click here

Leon Wainwright, ‘Aubrey Williams: Atlantic Fire’, in Reyahn King ed., 2010 Aubrey Williams: Atlantic Fire National Museums Liverpool and October Gallery, London, pp. 46-55. ISBN: 978-1-899542-30-7. Exhibition catalogue essay. Republished here with permission of the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and The October Gallery, London.


REV: Andrews, Blackness in the White Nation: A History of Afro-Uruguay

George Reid Andrews. Blackness in the White Nation: A History of Afro-Uruguay. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010. xiii + 241 pp. $59.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8078-3417-6; $22.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8078-7158-4.

Reviewed by Matthew F. Rarey (Department of Art History, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Published on H-AfrArts (August, 2011)
Commissioned by Jean M. Borgatti

Uruguay as Race and Nation

As the landscape of cultural studies scholarship increasingly favors transnational, translocal, and global analytical frameworks, George Reid Andrews’s Blackness in the White Nation: A History of Afro-Uruguay, offers a refreshingly nuanced and successful statement on the continuing importance of nation-specific analyses in the study of blackness and black history. Andrews contrasts Uruguayan social and cultural histories with those of other American nations, particularly in terms of black consciousness and racial (in)equality. At the same time, his careful research and use of primary sources hold the reader firmly inside Uruguay for the entire book. Andrews offers a wide range of case studies that speak to the roles played by political, social, and labor movements; sexuality; music; gender; race and minstrelsy; and carnivalesque performance in the formation of Uruguayan national understandings of blackness, whiteness, and the conception of racial democracy. What emerges is a complex yet highly accessible work, characterized by even-handed conclusions drawn from careful research and the foregrounding of primary sources. Blackness in the White Nation fills a major gap in Spanish- and English-language scholarship in the history of Latin America and the African diaspora, and should be of interest to scholars in fields as diverse as sociology and performance studies. Andrews’s work should also prove useful to advanced undergraduates and graduate students as well as to specialists in social and cultural history, music, dance, and performance, gender and women’s studies, and those interested in the continuing validity of national frameworks for working through African diasporic histories.

Continue reading “REV: Andrews, Blackness in the White Nation: A History of Afro-Uruguay”

PUB: The Art of Americanization at the Carlisle Indian School by Hayes Peter Mauro

In this historical study, Mauro analyzes the visual imagery produced at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School as a specific instance of the aesthetics of Americanization at work. His work combines a consideration of cultural contexts and themes specific to the United States of the time and critical theory to flesh out innovative historical readings of the photographic materials.

PUB: Representations 113 – New World Slavery and the Matter of the Visual

Representations 113
A Special Issue on New World Slavery
Representations 113 from University of California Press—A Special Issue: New World Slavery and the Matter of the Visual, edited by Huey Copeland, Krista Thompson, and Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby.This special issue features essays on the ongoing effects of racial bondage as seen through art and the visual archive—Including 16 color reproductions.

Representations 113: New World Slavery and the Matter of the Visual makes an eloquent case for the critical importance of visual representation to the rewriting of slavery’s imaginary.


In New World Slavery and the Matter of the Visual:
Perpetual Returns: New World Slavery and the Matter of the Visual
Huey Copeland, Krista Thompson
Read this articleNegative-Positive Truths
Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby

The Evidence of Things Not Photographed: Slavery and Historical Memory in the British West Indies
Krista Thompson

Artists’ Portfolios (16 full-color reproductions)
Hank Willis Thomas, Fred Wilson, Christopher Cozier

Glenn Ligon and Other Runaway Subjects
Huey Copeland

The Museu do Negro in Rio and the Cult of Anastácia as a New Model for the Memory of Slavery
Marcus Wood

Neither Lost nor Found: Slavery and the Visual Archive
Stephen Best

“What emerges, ultimately, is the definitively unfinished nature of freedom and the expansiveness of the peculiar institution’s deep structure: aspects of its legacy are always differently coming into view, underlining how our approach to its memory in the visual field must necessarily be shifting and recursive, ever alert to both the promises and perils of slavery’s perpetual returns.”
—Huey Copeland and Krista Thompson, from Perpetual Returns: New World Slavery and the Matter of the VisualVisit Representations online.
Copyright © 2011 University of California Press. All Rights Reserved.
2000 Center Street, Suite 303 | Berkeley | CA 94704
Visit our website

PUB: Paths of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Interactions, Identities, and Images By Ana Lucia Araujo

Of particular interest to art historians:

Part IV: Paths of Representations

Chapter 10: Hidden Beneath the Surface: Atlantic Slavery in Winslow
Homer’s “Gulf Stream”
Peter H. Wood

Chapter 11: Slaves’ Supplicant & Slaves’ Triumphant: The Middle Passage of
an Abolitionist Icon
Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie

Chapter 12: Picturing Homes and Border Crossings: The Slavery Trope in
Films of the Black Atlantic
Awam Amkpa and Gunja SenGupta


Based on innovative and extensive research, this edited volume examines the complex and unique human, cultural, and religious exchanges that resulted from the enslavement and the trade of Africans in the North and the South Atlantic regions during the era of the transatlantic slave trade. The book shows the connections between multiple Atlantic worlds that contain unique and diverse characteristics. The Atlantic slave trade disrupted African societies, families, and kin groups. Along the paths of the slave trade, men, women and children were imprisoned, separated, raped, and killed by war, famine and disease. The authors investigate some of the different pathways, whether physical and geographical or intellectual and metaphorical, that arose over the centuries in different parts of the Atlantic world in response to the slave trade and slavery. Highlighting unique and similar aspects, this groundbreaking book follows the trajectories of individuals, groups, and images, rethinking their relations with the local, and the Atlantic contexts.

Continue reading “PUB: Paths of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Interactions, Identities, and Images By Ana Lucia Araujo”

PUB: Selma Burke and Edmonia Lewis featured in SAAM Research and Scholars Center Newsletter

The Spring 2011 issue of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Research and Scholars Center Newsletter is now online:

This “special” issue features three women artists: Theresa Bernstein, Selma Burke, and Edmonia Lewis. Included is a selected bibliography of publications highlighting African American women artists. Key archival information about Burke is included, plus the discovery of a photograph of a lost work by Lewis.

PUB: Speak Now by Nana Oforiatta Ayim

A long-overdue shift is happening in how contemporary African art – from Dakar and Lagos to Cape Town, Harare and Rabat – is disseminated and discussed.

This piece was published in the May issue of frieze Magazine and can be found online at:

Speak Now

Much of what we know of art – how it is taught, exhibited and presented, whether in London or Lagos or Lahore – was first defined by Western critics. When Pablo Picasso drew inspiration from Bambara and Gabon masks after a visit to the Musée d’Ethnographie du Trocadéro in Paris in 1906, it was the West that decided that his works were ‘Modernist’ and that the masks were ‘primitive’. In 1953, Chris Marker and Alain Resnais made their first film, Les statues meurent aussi (Statues Also Die), which dealt with African art. In 2005, I was asked to do a new translation of the film from French into English as Marker was unhappy with the one that existed. In the film the directors talk of the ‘botany of death’ that happened when sculptures were taken from their natural settings in Africa to the museum cabinets of the West. The study of African art is not just a study of lines and forms, but also of the histories of silence.

Continue reading “PUB: Speak Now by Nana Oforiatta Ayim”

PUB: Seeing through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography by Martin Berger

Martin A. Berger, “Seeing through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011)

Seeing through Race is a boldly original reinterpretation of the iconic photographs of the black civil rights struggle. Martin A. Berger’s provocative and groundbreaking study shows how the very pictures credited with arousing white sympathy, and thereby paving the way for civil rights legislation, actually limited the scope of racial reform in the 1960s. Berger analyzes many of these famous images—dogs and fire hoses turned against peaceful black marchers in Birmingham, tear gas and clubs wielded against voting-rights marchers in Selma—and argues that because white sympathy was dependent on photographs of powerless blacks, these unforgettable pictures undermined efforts to enact—or even imagine—reforms that threatened to upend the racial balance of power

Continue reading “PUB: Seeing through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography by Martin Berger”

PUB: Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America by Tanya Sheenan

“Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America,” by Tanya Sheenan was released last week from Penn State University Press.

In Doctored, Tanya Sheehan takes a new look at the relationship between
photography and medicine in American culture, from the nineteenth century
to the present. Sheehan focuses on Civil War and postbellum Philadelphia,
exploring the ways in which medical models and metaphors helped strengthen
the professional legitimacy of the city’s commercial photographic
community at a time when it was not well established. By reading the trade
literature and material practices of portrait photography and medicine in
relation to one another, she shows how their interaction defined the space
of the urban portrait studio as well as the physical and social effects of
studio operations. Integrating the methods of social art history, science
studies, and media studies, Doctored reveals important connections between
the professionalization of American photographers and the construction of
photography’s cultural identity.

Continue reading “PUB: Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America by Tanya Sheenan”